When Distinction Disguises Discrimination: A Look at Female and Non-White CEO Performance
women CEO; CEO of color; performance; discrimination; entry barriers
Academy of Management
Extant research presents superior performance of women CEOs as evidence in support of differences between the genders. We argue that this body of research suffers from joint hypothesis problem. Although it is possible that female executives are superior, another possibility could be that discriminatory practices impose higher entry barriers allowing for only above-average female executives to occupy these positions. We find that stratified by gender and ethnicity, the female CEO of color emerges as best performer, followed by white female CEOs and men CEOs of color. The white male CEO is among the worst performers. The woman of color faces the highest barriers as she is subject to both gender and ethnic discrimination. Thus, those from this group who do manage to make it to top are among the best performers.